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Vast Mass Market Paperback – February 8, 2001
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The Vast curtain opens with four crew members on the vessel Null Boundary making their centuries-long journey towards the star system of Alpha Cygni. More refugees from a broken civilization than explorers, they seek the Chenzeme, murderers of the human race, whose 30-million-year-old warships prowl the near and far reaches of space, destroying all they encounter.
Linda Nagata is remarkably adept at introducing new concepts without disturbing the flow of the narrative. Vast molds human figures out of a clay of genetic, nano, and virtual technology, allowing their humanity to take primacy: "It came without warning, making no sound. Lot first sensed its presence as a flash of motion in the central tunnel. He looked around, to see a flood spiraling down on him, white water sluicing through an invisible pipe, a snake made of water. It swept into the chamber; it coiled around him, an arm's length away. The coils of the snake melted together, and he was encased in a glistening shell. Charismata of exhilaration rained against his sensory tears, a strange foreign sense of greeting. Tendrils reached out to him from the shell's shimmering white surface, a thousand slender white tendrils brushing him. Faint touches. Where they contacted his skin suit they retracted, but where they touched his bruised face they stayed. Familiarity flooded him, a warm sense of union that eased the black pressure of the cult [virus] forever burning under his skin. A voice whispered in his ear, produced by a trembling membrane on the end of a tendril. 'You know us?'"
Make sure you're in a comfortable position when you start reading: Linda Nagata is light years ahead of her contemporaries in writing heart-racing, hard-science SF. Once this story sinks its teeth into you, you won't hear the phone ringing or care that it's way past bedtime until the last page is turned. --Jhana Bach --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
A last remnant of humanity seeks its ancient enemy....
Praise for Linda Nagata's The Bohr Maker:
"Brilliantly original...Makes her work favorably comparable with that of leading-edge stylists such as Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson."
--The Denver Post
--The New York Times Book Review
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
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I've said it once and ill say it again; if you're into fiction about cold hard science then this is the writer you've always been looking for. If you just like aliens and robots with lasers then you might find a little here but you'll prolly be confused by a lot of this book and lose interest.
1) The focus is much narrower. The scene always stays with the 5 inhabitants of a single ship, which keeps the story more, well, story-like. Reynolds work is more "a bunch of related, interesting events," and Nagata's book is more like a single story. I prefer the latter, if you like the former you'll like Reynolds better.
2) I thought her imagination of future tech was more creative. She does more with less--No FTL, next to nothing about weaponry, but an amazing job exploring the various ancient entities (slowly enough to preserve dramatic interest but quickly enough that there are no deus ex machinas). In particular, I loved the way she played with how cognition appears in clouds of nanoentities.
3) Other reviewers complain that it is the second book in a series. I didn't read the first book, and I had no trouble--she leaves enough clues that you can piece together what happened without the annoyance of information dumps that slow down the story.
If that sentence makes sense to you, you can probably understand this book. If it doesn't, maybe you can't.
This is not an easy book. But if you can follow it, it will take you on a hair-raising and deeply thought-provoking journey across the stars.
The characters are fascinating. They are all various degrees removed from what would presently be considered human -- one has a space-hardened body, for example; one exists only in software.
Nagata uses many concepts from the farthest edges of contemporary science. The resulting story is way, way out there, but it's still "hard" science fiction, meant to be more or less plausible. There's nothing like fantasy or magic in it.
"Vast" drops you without preparation into the far, far, far future. There's a lot to learn for a visitor from the 21st century (that's you!). You have to be a fast learner. It helps if you've kept up with recent developments in nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and astrophysics. And it helps if you ENJOY being put into an intellectual "sink or swim" kind of situation.
Much of the action is described through the emotional responses of the crew members-rather like Das Boot, if people still remember that film.
Most recent customer reviews
Nagata's strengths are again on display here.Deception WellThe Bohr MakerRead more